Training hard but not seeing results? Or you constantly feel tired or get ill easily?
Some people I speak to push themselves to train even harder and more often, almost daily, but they get more tired, more ill and eventually give up.
The reason for this? I suspect it’s a lack of recovery.
The purpose of exercise is to push your body and mind past what it’s currently capable of.
All this is to induce stress (the good type) on our systems. Now comes the part a lot of people miss: recovery is needed to allow our bodies time and resources to rebuild and improve itself!
Now, if you’re like me and hate the idea of sitting around, recovery is difficult to do. We just want to go, go, go!
So how do we make our recovery time active enough for us to feel like we’ve done something?
Here’s a few of my suggestions:
Take a day off. Or two if needed 🙂
Yoga. I’m usually allergic to anything that’s overly mystical and spiritual but some styles of yoga focus on mindfulness and understanding your body instead. So, if you are like me, and prefer to keep your spirituality to yourself, treat yoga as a session of deep breathing, stretching and relaxation – all things useful for recovery.
Meditation. Again, we’re not talking about any mystical or spiritual meditation. That’s just not my cup of tea (not yet, anyway!). Meditation for me is a self-guided calming of the mind. It’s a way to regulate your central nervous system, regulate your breathing and your heart rate.
Walking. Nice and easy, go for a one mile walk in the park. You get fresh air and a gentle cardio recovery workout. And can get through a couple of episodes of Poirot on BBC IPlayer! Little grey cells, heh… 🙂
Cold or contrast showers (Yikes!). Not the most pleasant of experiences when you first try it but it is kind of invigorating once you adapt to it. Cold showers are exactly that. A cold shower 🙂 whereas contrast showers alternate between hot and cold for anything up to 30 seconds of the cold blast and 90-120 seconds of the hot (not boiling obvs!). This amps up your blood circulation and can reduce muscle soreness dramatically.
Foam Roll. Foam rolling is a form of self-massage. You can really unknot muscle tension with a good session on a foam roller. Concentrate on areas like your butt, hamstrings and upper back. Warning: it can be painful but does wonders.
Eat! There’s a short window, typically a 1-2 hours after an intense workout, where your body is super receptive to nutrients. This means we want to replenish our fuel stores in the muscles (glycogen), minimise protein breakdown in the muscles and also feed our muscles with extra nutrients to speed up the repair process. You can get a variety of post-workout shakes or just make your own with milk, fruit and some oats.
Finally, get into the mindset that recovery is training! Recovery is vital to allow you to push further in the future. By not allowing sufficient time for recovery you’ll most likely end up injured which is not what we want.